Friday, 29 June 2012

We love the Olympics, but we don’t like being told half the truth…

"Crowd Farm" theoretical possabilities and reality are sometimes poles apart…

Olympic shopping – just what is a watt????

We understand mosy ppl have no idea of the most basic facts regarding energy use. Most people don't even know that the words "energy" and "power" have different meanings

So how about special floor tiles to generate electricity from human footfalls,,, worth doing?

Twenty bright green rubber tiles will adorn one of the outdoor walkways at the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, which is next to the new Olympic stadium in east London.

The squares aren't just ornamental. They are designed to collect the kinetic energy created by the estimated 40 million pedestrians who will use that walkway in a year, generating several hundred kilowatt-hours of electricity from their footsteps. That's enough to power half the mall's outdoor lighting.

For reference, then: even if the vast Stratford City mall uses LED exterior lighting, just a single light can be expected to require energy supplies of more than 900 kilowatt-hours in a year. There's no prospect whatsoever that "several hundred kilowatt-hours" could provide half the massive facility's outdoor lighting - this much is obvious straight off the bat.

But it gets worse:

On average, one footstep generates 7 watts of electricity, though the amount varies depending on a person's weight.

Seven watts for how long? This is meaningless.

And even worse, the headline says:

46.2 Megawatts of heating, 39 Megawatts of cooling and up to 3.34 Megawatts of electrical power. so we can see that the Stratford City mall's power consumption over time will run in the several tens of megawatts - for annual energy consumption of a few hundred thousand megawatt-hours over just two weeks… "a few hundred kilowatt-hours" is nothing…

footfall generators will provide roughly one millionth of the energy the centre requires.

they will
 "reduce its carbon footprint", but not significantly. Even if the whole place was tiled and they runs the olympics for 52 weeks with footfall generators and every person on them generated 7 Watts constantly ... you would have to pack more than half the population of London in there, five million people all walking around without pause, just to keep it powered up. On a really cold or hot day you might need millions more.

The business model has little to do with actually generating power. It's about marketing and green imagery:

We like Green, but please can we have ‘real’ green???

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sainsburys using a smart grid

Sainsbury's in Hythe branch is a just a little special

its a smart grid supermarket. It uses innovative technology to not only dramatically cut its carbon use but also reduce its demand on the national grid. Less demand for peak electricity means less pressure on high-carbon reserve power stations – reducing the CO2 footprint of not only the store but also the country.

While reducing peak demand cuts carbon today, Sainsbury's is also mindful of the future. It is using Hythe as a test bed to learn and prepare itself for a time when electrical availability, carbon intensity and the cost of power may differ across the day.

In a future where power cost changes depending on the time of day, commercial users of power will need to learn to be smarter and more flexible about when they use electricity. Sainsbury's "smart grid ready" system at Hythe is already there.

The Hythe store is one of a number of carbon step change supermarkets developed by the company and the first result of a partnership with Imperial College and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change.
This academic approach has meant that the energy use of complex operations has been accurately mapped. Specialist IT systems reduce Hythe's heating, ventilation and lighting systems at peak times – helping to ease the strain on the local and national grid.

For example, the store uses night blinds on chiller cabinets saving up to 140 kWh and £20 per week – significant when multiplied by over a 1000 sites 52 weeks of the year. Chillers and freezers can be run slightly colder during the night and allowed to come to target temperatures during the day – using the same amount of energy but more importantly being less carbon intense as they are not drawing on peak electricity power.

The partnership has also looked closely at daylight hours and light intensity. This has resulted in lower lux levels being introduced at different times of day.

Within six months levels have been reduced from 800 to 650 lux with a corresponding 12% energy reduction on Hythe's baseline. This innovation is now being rolled out to 89 stores.

other supermarket chains are available

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Off topic – American Italian plumbers and the Wii U

We love Super Mario, but we are not quite sure where the ‘super’ come from. Having said that, we are casual gamers having not even finished Mario Galaxy and the Wii is a lil bit forlorn in the corner on the whole untouched.

We see with interest that there will be a new Mario game to go with a new Nintendo console. Not much of a surprise eh!
To be honest he’s more than a company mascot, his lush moustache and bulbous nose make up the face of gaming for about half HM the queens rein. He’s up there in ‘bigger then the Beatles’ territory

In that time, he’s got better - from sprites to polygons, to eerily lifelike motion-capture performances. Even so, he remains a cartoon and we like his primary-coloured mix

He’s clearly got a dark side – as anyone who's been on the wrong end of a blue shell in a Mario Kart game can tell you. – reminds me, must finish that game too :)

I have a two year old at home, and I know I can trust Mario: he might make me curse, but he's never going to start CODing and blowing up the place with rocket-propelled grenades or biting at my Jugular

In defence of Elise, we are probably due for an equality adjustment – just 'Who does Princess Peach save?'

There’s a lot to be said for its sense of endearing innocence. Just as long as Tendo don’t turn him into a troubled anti-hero, plagued with grief and loss, situated in a gothic future

We are looking forward to the pre Christmas arrival of Wii U, and we just hope we can afford it…
Lets see if it’s a success, you are probably saying, I got a phone in my pocket that does all I need with less fuss and less expense?

So in this life-or-death struggle do we think Mario will back in the lounge jumping around like loons laughing as a family or will we all be like a 12-year-old boy, getting neck ach hunched over an isomething?

For our sakes, we hope the Wii is a success, just to get us laughing again…

It's a lot for one immigrant plumber to do, but if anyone can, he can…

I've yet to find a game on my phone that is as purely and utterly joyful or as much sheer fun as something like Super Mario Galaxy. Therefore, you already have one vote…

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

what affects your wifi speed

you would think it would be simple, but I am afraid that is far from the truth

Wi-Fi network speed is based on a large set of variables, such as:

1.Mix of client population.
2.AP and client radio capabilities and specifications (data rate support, beam forming, TPC, output power, sensitivity, radio quality, etc.)
3.Distance of each client device connecting to the AP.
4.Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi interference in the channel.
5.High density handling features such as Airtime fairness, band steering, load balancing, RRM, and many others.
6.Antenna gain (and directionality) of the AP and client devices and related features such as beam forming that improve RSSI and SNR.
7.Signal blockages (e.g. barriers such as walls) in the environment.
8.Location of each client relative to the AP and other clients, as well as location of each AP relative to each other.
9.Interference rejection (directional antennas or smart antennas).
10.AP CPU speed and load (data through the Ethernet ports, application layer functions, control-plane functions, filtering/QoS functions, etc.)

told you it was complcated...

Mother electrocuted after mopping up in kitchen, inquest rules

taken from

A mother, Emma Shaw, died following a catalogue of blunders by workmen at her home which resulted in her being electrocuted while mopping up water.

The 22 year-old was killed while cleaning her kitchen floor after wiring was given the all clear by the friend of an unqualified electrician.

The mother-of-one died following a series of blunders by the workmen at her flat in West Bromwich, West Mids, just a fortnight before Christmas.

An inquest was told that just moments before dying she had texted her boyfriend saying "the electric's sparking".

A screw fixing plasterboard had been driven through a cable into live wires on December 14, 2007, the inquest heard. The mistakes caused the electrics to spark when the boiler leaked.
The jury was told the electrics were installed by Anchor Electrical and Building Services, Staffs, the previous year.

They heard how work on the boiler was "not adequate" and criticised its "poor layout and poor design".
They heard that Chris Tomkins had filled out four safety documents that were also full of errors, but had been checked by his supervisor Neil Hoult.

This included the unqualified electrician's friend Chris Tomkins, testing and approving the wiring at the flat.
Her son Brayden, then aged 23 months, had been shut in the living room while his mother went to tend the boiler in a hallway cupboard.

Her boyfriend Andy Cross, 29, told the week long hearing that he had panicked when he got the text message.

"I tried to call her but got no answer," he said. I got home at about noon and I saw her legs sticking out of the cupboard.

"I shook her a few times and I knew straight away there was something wrong."

The jury, sitting at Smethwick Council House, West Mids, concluded she had been unlawfully killed, with the company found to have failed to comply with health and safety standards.

They found that "the failure to report a known hazard of trapping cables and not making tradesmen aware of this fact."

They ruled that testing on the flat was "not carried out to a professional standard if at all".

Robin Balmain, the Black Country coroner, said he would write to the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting, a voluntary regulatory body. "The dangers of that ought to be obvious to anybody," he said.

On Wednesday the family of Miss Shaw, who worked at Asda, called for the company to be prosecuted.
Miss Shaw had hoped to join the RAF but had failed a medical because she had eczema, and was on a two-year waiting list for an appeal. Her son is now five and being cared for by Mr Cross.

Her mother Diane Potter, 46, of West Bromwich, said the ruling was the first step in getting justice for her daughter.

Speaking after the hearing, she said: "It is disgusting that this can happen to someone. If the electrics had been fitted and tested properly we wouldn't be here today, and Emma would still be with us, and Brayden would still have his mum.

"I'm still angry and upset about the building firm. If they had done their job properly we wouldn't be here now."

Mr Cross added: "We just hope the Crown Prosecution Service can take this forward.
"Times is healer but I still see visions of her. Sometimes when I get up in the morning, the first thing I think about is her."

Her father Paul Shaw, 49, who now lives in Ireland with his second wife Kathleen, said: "Emma was bright and cheerful – very sure of herself. She was very lovable.

"It's up to the CPS whether they proceed with criminal court action. We are also seeking suitable compensation for Brayden."

The CPS has said there was not enough evidence to successfully prosecute anyone.

Ruth Barber, representing the Health and Safety Executive, confirmed new paperwork would be passed to the CPS to gauge whether the company face prosecution.

The company did not comment.

Monday, 25 June 2012

RCD element of an RCBO to provide for fault protection

As the designer of an installation, am I allowed to rely on the RCD element of an RCBO to provide for fault protection in order to allow for loop impedance values greater than given in Table 41.3?

Yes, so long as all the other applicable requirements of the 17th Edition (as amended) are met, including those for protection against overload and short circuit.

Regulation number(s)

Sunday, 24 June 2012


we didnt put this in, but we wish we did.... brilliant concept.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Jimmy Carr

We all agree that Jimmy Carr's little tax scheme was in theory wrong, but as a mile in the shoes moment, we also agree that we are over taxed, and if someone came to you and said, I have a legal loophole that will mean you pay the taxman less, you’d probably take a punt on it…

So I knida think David Cameron, calling it "morally wrong" a tad disingenuous. After all, his family has had intimate knowledge of tax minimisation techniques.

HMRC say, the right tax at the right time, then they say to businesses, you have to pay your tax on your earning before you earned it… stupid system as part of Britain's incomprehensible tax system.

what do you think? probably somewhere in the middle?

generate power from your footsteps (more on Viruses)

Generating electricity in your footsteps. Sounds utopian. But, this could soon be a reality, say scientists who have developed a paper-thin generator that harnesses the mechanical energy of one's steps. An international team says these "living generators" use viruses to convert the soles of one's shoes into electricity.

So far, the generators can only create enough power to run a small LCD panel (about a quarter of the power of a AAA battery) - but work in the laboratory simply by tapping a finger on an electrode, the 'Daily Mail' reported. In the future, the scientists could be used to power everything from portable electronics like phones - powered by footsteps - to lighting systems, powered by similar panels inside doors.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Tasers can be lethal

Questions about the safety of taser stun guns used by police forces across the globe have been raging ever since the supposedly non-lethal weapons first came into use over a decade ago.

Amnesty International, the company’s most vocal critic, has compiled figures indicating that at least 500 people in the USA have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers, and according to more conservative, but no less shocking, figures published by the US Justice Department, 184 people have died since 1986 after being stunned by a taser.

Taser International, the company that manufactures the 50,000 volt devices, has vehemently contested that the weapons are unsafe and has fought back in court when people say otherwise. Often the blame will fall back upon the victim’s drug abuse, weak heart or propensity to die suddenly from the debatable medical term known as ‘excited delirium’ – which Amnesty cites as a cause of death in 111 of 334 cases it has documented.

But there is a mounting tide of scientific proof that appears to question Taser’s claims. Since 2006 there have been a number of peer reviewed animal research studies demonstrating cardiac risk from the taser.
And earlier this month, Dr Douglas Zipes, one of the world’s most prominent cardiac electrophysiologists, published in the journal of the American Heart Association the first peer-reviewed human study demonstrating that darts in the chest can cause sudden death.

In an interview with ABC, Dr Zipes, of the Indiana University School of Medicine concluded: ‘It is absolutely unequivocal based on my understanding of how electricity works on the heart, based on good animal data and based on numerous clinical situations that the taser unquestionably can produce sudden cardiac arrest and death.’

Thursday, 21 June 2012

When is a HD telly Not a HD telly??

Answer When it is a 720 HD Ready telly...

You may think a HD Ready telly is actually capable of high-definition – well it’s not

You see them in Curry’s (other TV shops are available) “HD Ready telly”

They don’t sound very different, yet the way retailers use "HD Ready" is basically a bit of a rip off, they should be cauled ½HD or HD.5. its very misleading


•Standard TV – in the UK it usually has 576 horizontal lines.
•HD Ready – has a minimum 720 horizontal lines.
•Full HD – has a minimum 1080 horizontal lines.

The higher the number of lines, the greater the density of the screen, so the higher the definition.   

The difference between the minimum definition of Full HD and HD Ready is far bigger than the gap between HD Ready and the old, standard definition – so it’s little surprise people don’t notice too much of an improvement when upgrading.

So there you have it, you only get that you pay for, but it would help to let you know if you were getting value for money is the point of sale was a little clearer in their definitions…

The term is technically correct, but its being misused

Did you think "HD Ready" means that the television is ready to receive a HD signal – and technically that is correct – and exactly what it was intended to mean in the early days ie, it has the ability to show a picture based on a high-definition input.

It’s worth noting that even if you have a HD telly, unless the signal and programme are in HD eg, via Blu-ray or a Sky HD box (watching a HD channel, with a programmne in HD) your picture won’t be). So there’s no point in getting full HD if you don’t have something or intend getting something that plays out in HD.

Our suggestion is Check out the resolution – a 720 resolution TVs is in all honesty only "Half HD"

sharing electric

There are more plans for HVDC links, this time, on the bed of the North Sea between Peterhead and Bergen.

This is also one of the places that Europe is changing most. And at roughly £1.5bn for this one project, it's quite a challenge for the finance director.

North Connect is a five-company, three-country consortium that plans to put a large amount of copper across the North Sea.

now on track to open for electrical traffic in 2010 or 2011. And it's reckoned this will be the first of two such High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cables between Norway and the UK, with the potential for injection points across the North Sea, where it can link into the giant wind farms being built there.

There's already a Norway-Netherlands link, and one linking across the Baltic to Sweden and Denmark.
The Peterhead connection is unusual in its large capacity, at 1,400 megawatts, and also for its intended two-way traffic. By taking wind power from Scotland when it's in surplus - typically that'll be overnight - it can pump water uphill in Norway's extensive network of hydro stations.

Norway learned from Scotland how to do hydro, and then took to it with vigour. That infrastructure can deliver more efficiently than Scotland, as much of the flow is from glacial melt, whereas Scotland relies on variable rainfall and run-of-river generation, with only a limited amount of pump storage capacity. It may yet build more, but it's much easier and probably cheaper to connect to those who already have the kit in place.
So come th
e morning, when you switch on the kettle, the sluice gates open, the direct current reverses, and Norwegian hydro will be heating your coffee.

we all know you need to produce power in your own country. That's why there's an assumption for many that a shortfall in wind power must be backed up by base load supply.

That's true. There must be back-up. But the back-up may be in a different part of Europe - whether a French nuclear plant, Norwegian hydro or Spanish solar.

And that answers the big question nagging away at the big push for wind power in Britain. If the cables are in place to export it into continental markets, then they're also in place to import it when Britain's becalmed. And in the case of Norway's pump storage, you can put away some surplus for what you might call a rainy day.

you may have noticed, the unit price of solar power has been falling fast. And such integration has to raise questions of whether it will eventually undercut the pricey business of putting big wind turbines out at sea

now we can start to get rid of this fixation on oil and gas.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

the regs

The 17th Edition does not now define a zone 3 in a bathroom or shower room. What electrical equipment and accessories can be installed in the area between 0.6 m and 3.0 m from the edge of the bath or shower basin? Moreover, what minimum degree of IP protection are manufacturers likely to recommend?

There is no change from the 16th Edition requirements – that is, the general rules apply. The manufacturer’s installation instructions must always be followed.

Regulation number(s)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Why haven't we heard about RCDs until now?

Where have you been? with Noah on the Ark???

In a recent survey, a third of respondents said they knew what an RCD was – however, we know that many people confuse them with circuit-breakers, which offer nowhere near the same level of safety protection.

RCD protection has been around for many years, but there has been no requirement to fit it in older properties. With the increasing number of electrical devices we all have in the home and garden, we all need to consider electrical safety more. The Electrical Safety Council is running this campaign to cut the number of people killed or injured by electrical accidents by getting more of us to fit RCD protection at home.

a spark of hope for the electric car

Last year, the Department for Transport hailed 2011 as the "year of the electric car".

Subsidies were offered and councils were told to plan for an electric future. The long-promised revolution in the way we drive was finally here, it seemed.

they were wrong with only 1,000 were sold.

Today, more than 60 charging points will go live in Oxford, making the city the "electric vehicle capital of Europe" with one charging point for every 2,400 people – the best ratio in Europe.

The company behind the new network, Chargemaster, hopes that Oxford will set the pace for other cities preparing for a new generation of electric and hybrid cars coming on the market in the next two years. British cities dominate the top 10 list of electric-friendly locations. London has 654 charging points, the most in Europe.

"Not only do electric vehicles have obvious environmental benefits, they also make the most financial sense," said David Martell, chief executive of Chargemaster. "They have never been more convenient to charge and maintain." The new stations will be able to charge a car's battery in half the eight hours older charging points can take. A further 50 charging points planned for Oxford and the surrounding area in the coming year could cut charging times to just 20 minutes.

In the next 18 months, 29 new models of electric or hybrid car will come on the market. BMW is launching its first "all-electric" cars, the i3 and the i8. Ford will launch the Focus Electric, while Vauxhall has just released what it claims is "the first electric vehicle suitable for everyday use", the Ampera, which has a range of 360 miles thanks to a small petrol-fuelled generator that supplies electricity to the wheels after the battery has run out. Most entirely electric cars have a range of 100 miles.

Combined with the growing network of charging points, it means the Department for Transport hopes that, if not 2011 or even 2012, then maybe 2013 might be the electric car's year. "One of the biggest barriers to the take-up of electric cars has been drivers' concerns about finding somewhere to charge them," said the Transport minister, Norman Baker. "Motorists are used to having a filling station within easy reach and want reassurance that vehicles using alternative technologies will also be easy to refuel or recharge. This barrier has been well and truly smashed in Oxford."

Although electric cars don't come cheap (the Ampera costs nearly £30k), the Government pays £5k toward any purchase and, with the price of petrol ever-increasing, the running costs are much lower.
Professor Allan Hutchinson, head of the Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre at Oxford Brookes University, believes the new generation of vehicles will be taken more seriously by drivers.

In the future, recharging could be even easier thanks to wireless technology that is being developed. Charging "pads" could be installed in front of traffic lights or in car parks, he says, allowing cars to charge up on the move. New roads could have charging pads built in. Professor Hutchinson predicts that by 2020, 5 per cent of vehicles could be electric. "It's about energy security," he said. "There simply won't be enough liquid fuel left in the world."

Back in Oxford, there are already more charging points than petrol stations. Soon that may be true of every town in the country.

Monday, 18 June 2012

the future of the i-tablet

like or not the i-pad, the tablet is here to stay, and that one device is set to be a giant killer... in less than 5 years you wont recognise the old i-pad / tablet you used to use.

the real plus is only one device...

tabs of the future. Accessibility will be key. They must be handy, always.

Mobile phones will begin feeling the competition from tabs, just as PCs are seeing it now. You’ll phone in with your tab and video conference with others with live images on the screen.

car makers will clip them in place as a sat nav, but it will take over as the dashboard too...

it will including monitoring engines and mechanicals and even booking the car in for a service.

Control apps will be everywhere. Many households have a dozen or more remote controls, each operating a different device. All of these will be centralised on a tablet screen.

Tab apps will move far beyond the usual audio-visual remotes. You will control your security system, lighting and appliances on the tablet. It may be simple, such as turning on the washing machine from any room in the house, or as complex as managing efficient heating.

Tabs will replace our traditional cameras. New sensors will provide photos as good as expensive cameras (but not a pro slr, due to the limitation of the optics) Photos take up a lot of storage space, but that’s no problem. Every tablet will be automatically linked to an off-site storage server accessed by the “cloud,” a wireless computer network.

All these features greatly increase a tab’s power needs. so we will see a tab that charges in the car and has PV cells on the back to charge on the hop.

Batteries are being tested to catch up. One scheme uses silicone gel on lithium and offers up to 10 times the life of our present lithium-ion batteries.

Toshiba is working on a battery called SCiB that recharges to 90 percent capacity in five minutes. It lasts three to five times longer than the common lithium-ion.

Battery makers are hoping the future includes standardisation. Currently, they must make hundreds of different batteries to fit devices. They view computer tablets as a chance to standardise on a single battery for all devices. Battery prices would fall, and the batteries could be more environmentally sensible.

I am afraid for all you Luddites, the tablet is here to stay, and don't expect apple to be at the top of the food chain either, there are some other big players out there with a lot of money to invest. sooner or later China will realise that it doesn't have to just manufacture for other countries, look out for the Chi-pad, buy one get one free for £100.00. its coming, and its coming sooner than you think...

Sunday, 17 June 2012

the first government computer is local

For every £40 spent by the UK state sector, nearly £1 goes on information and communications technology; well over double what we spend on roads.

Yet just 70 years ago, the electronic programmable computing on which all ICT depends was just a theoretical concept in the minds of visionaries such as Alan Turing (unusual man, genius who walked round the lake with a knotted on his head talking to himself). Calculations were made by humans, sometimes with the aid of machines, but these were mechanical and electrical.

At Bletchley Park, a country house and estate by the train lines and communication cables from London to the north-west, the government employed Turing and his peers to turn the concept of electronic programmable computing into reality, in order to crack the sophisticated enciphering machines of the Nazis. The work, which some historians believe shortened the war by two years, was blanketed in secrecy, and remained undercover for decades afterwards.

No longer. "Bletchley: Home of the codebreakers," reads the town sign. Pointers to Enigma Court, a new housing development named after the most famous enciphering equipment broken by the park, appear miles earlier.

Bletchley Park is now a collection of museums which show how rapidly computing developed during the desperate years of war. In September 1940, former university student Mavis Lever used pencil and paper to make a key breakthrough in cracking Italy's naval cipher, contributing greatly to Britain's first major naval victory in the war, when it sank five Italian ships at Cape Matapan on 28 March 1941.

While a Colossus has been reconstructed, the museum's Witch is the real thing. Later this year, the museum hopes to reanimate the Harwell Dekatron, later renamed the Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computer from Harwell, which it believes will become the world's oldest working extant computer. The machine, already on show at the museum, was built in 1949 for the Harwell atomic power station in Oxfordshire.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Electricity generated from harmless viruses

Scientists have made a breakthrough that could lead to tiny devices that harvest electrical energy from the vibrations of everyday tasks such as shutting a door or climbing stairs.

The team from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a way to generate power using harmless viruses that convert mechanical energy into electricity.

They tested their approach by creating a generator that produces enough current to operate a small liquid-crystal display.

It works by tapping a finger on a postage stamp-sized electrode coated with specially engineered viruses. The viruses convert the force of the tap into an electric charge.

Their generator is the first to produce electricity by harnessing the piezoelectric properties of a biological material. Piezoelectricity is the accumulation of a charge in a solid in response to mechanical stress.
The milestone also points to a simpler way to make microelectronic devices. That's because the viruses arrange themselves into an orderly film that enables the generator to work. Self-assembly is a much sought after goal in the finicky world of nanotechnology.

"More research is needed, but our work is a promising first step toward the development of personal power generators, actuators for use in nano-devices, and other devices based on viral electronics," said Seung-Wuk Lee, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and a UC Berkeley associate professor of bioengineering.

He conducted the research with a team that includes Ramamoorthy Ramesh, a scientist in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and a professor of materials sciences, engineering, and physics at UC Berkeley; and Byung Yang Lee of Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division.

The piezoelectric effect was discovered in 1880 and has since been found in crystals, ceramics, bone, proteins, and DNA. It's also been put to use. Electric cigarette lighters and scanning probe microscopes couldn't work without it, to name a few applications.

But the materials used to make piezoelectric devices are toxic and very difficult to work with, which limits the widespread use of the technology.

Friday, 15 June 2012

What's an e-bomb???

The UK needs to defend itself against an electromagnetic pulse-based ‘E-bomb’ that could knock out all electronic systems, so says the defence secretary.

Traditional defences based on “infantry or jet planes” would not be enough to protect the country from such an attack, and that Britain needs to spend money on building its digital defences.

One of the challenges we face, particularly at a time of limited resources, is to make the case for spending on defence and security solutions that cannot readily be seen by the public – that cannot be shown off in the parade ground – that could be digital, not necessarily physical,

Security experts at the 3rd Electric Infrastructure and Security Council (EIS) Summit – which will focus on securing the electric grids of the US and its allies – are expected to say that the risk of a rogue state using an E-bomb to attack is on the increase.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

the next step in nonvolatile memory...

Ever heard of the spin hall effect, or did you think it was a new group on BGT

Cornell researchers have demonstrated a new strategy for making energy- efficient, reliable nonvolatile magnetic memory devices -- which retain information without electric power.

Reported online in the journal Science May 3, the researchers use a physical phenomenon called the spin Hall effect, that turns out to be useful for memory applications because it can switch magnetic poles back and forth -- the basic mechanism needed to make magnet-based computer memory.

The Cornell researchers discovered that the spin Hall effect in the metal tantalum can be twice as strong as in any material investigated previously, and it can provide an efficient new way to manipulate magnetic moments. The Cornell device could give the leading nonvolatile magnetic memory technology, called the magnetic tunnel junction, a run for its money.

"The spin Hall effect is interesting because it's a bit of physics people haven't paid all that much attention to using in applications," said Dan Ralph, the Horace White Professor of Physics, member of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science and the paper's senior co-author with Robert A. Buhrman, the J.E. Sweet Professor of Engineering.

The spin Hall effect works like this: In a heavy metal like tantalum, electrons with intrinsic spins pointing at different angles (electrons, in quantum mechanics, spin like a top) are deflected sideways in different directions. Consequently, a charge current produces a net-sideways flow of spins. This spin current can be absorbed by an adjacent magnetic layer, applying a torque to flip the magnetic orientation. The magnet stays in place even when no current flows, making the memory nonvolatile.

Currently, the leading technology for developing nonvolatile magnetic memory devices is the magnetic tunnel junction, which consists of two magnetic layers sandwiching a thin barrier. When an electrical current passes perpendicular to the layers of a magnetic tunnel junction, one magnetic layer polarizes the electrons, acting as a filter to produce a spin-polarized current. The next layer can absorb this spin current and receive a torque to flip the magnet.

clever eh!!!!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Social landlords handed one fire notice every week

Social landlords are being served with an average of one enforcement notice a week by fire brigades across England.

Research carried out by Inside Housing reveals that over the last six months for which records are available - between the beginning of September 2011 and March this year - at least 35 notices have been served on social landlords.

Fire enforcement notices are issued where a landlord has failed to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and set out corrective measures they are legally obliged to complete within a specific timescale.

The majority of the enforcement notices - 29 - were served on London-based landlords. The news comes less than three years after a high-profile tragedy which highlighted the importance of fire safety in tower blocks, when six people died in Southwark Council’s 12-storey tower block, Lakanal House.

London Fire Brigade confirmed that it had carried out audits on 1,642 blocks of flats with four or more storeys in 2011/12 - a figure which includes blocks that are not owned by social landlords. In 66 cases (4 per cent) it issued an enforcement notice following the audit.

In the same year the LFB audited an overall total of 13,229 premises and issued 694 enforcement notices - 5 per cent of the total.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Scientists measure communication between stem cell-derived motor neurons and muscle cells

In an effort to identify the underlying causes of neurological disorders that impair motor functions such as walking and breathing, UCLA researchers have developed a funky system to measure the communication between stem cell-derived motor neurons and muscle cells in the lab

The study provides an important proof of principle that functional motor circuits can be created outside of the body using stem cell-derived neurons and muscle cells, and that the level of communication, or synaptic activity, between the cells could be accurately measured by stimulating motor neurons with an electrode and then measuring the transfer of electrical activity into the muscle cells to which the motor neurons are connected.

When motor neurons are stimulated, they release neurotransmitters that depolarize the membranes of muscle cells, allowing the entry of calcium and other ions that cause them to contract.

By measuring the strength of this activity, one can get a good estimation of the overall health of motor neurons.

That estimation could shed light on a variety of neurodegenerative diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, in which the communication between motor neurons and muscle cells is thought to unravel, said study senior author Bennett G. Novitch, an assistant professor of neurobiology and a scientist with the Eli and Edythe Broad Centre of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

this could have major medical repercussions

Monday, 11 June 2012

Next-gen Apple iPad, iPhone to use multi-tiered haptic tech

Apple has filed 14 new patent applications, which were published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday. The patents include an advanced new haptics system, a new battery design, a new camera feature, and some modifications to the Mac mini and high-speed cables.

Just before the new iPad was announced, it was reported that Apple could be implementing a new haptic texture display in the tablet, which would create a 'textured feedback' by means of a small electrical stimulus. The new iPad emerged with no such display, however, a new patent filed by Apple has revealed a more advanced multi-tiered haptics system, reports Patently Apple.

The system would allow an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch's display to deform to make a button, an arrow or a map pop out of the screen to give it three-dimensional depth.

The latest patent shows an invention that uses layered haptic controls. Patently Apple says: "Haptic systems may be used for actuation such as vibration, shape change (e.g., contouring a flat surface), or other suitable actuations or combination of actuation which may provide tactile feedback to a user.

Patently Apple states that in Apple's new invention: "Stacked arrays may be used to create a contoured screen surface such as, for example, contour maps, shaped buttons, moving contours or shapes, or other surfaces with multi-scale features."

clever eh!!!!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Fire exit advice..

Our Sunday funny....

Researchers use diamonds to boost computer memory

Johns Hopkins University engineers are using diamonds to change the properties of an alloy used in phase-change memory, a change that could lead to the development higher capacity storage systems that retain data more quickly and last longer than current media.

The process, explained this month in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), focused on changes to the inexpensive GST phase-change memory alloy that's composed of germanium, antimony and tellurium.

"This phase-change memory is more stable than the material used in current flash drives. It works 100 times faster and is rewritable about 100,000 times," said the study's lead author, Ming Xu, a doctoral student at the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

"Within about five years, it could also be used to replace hard drives in computers and give them more memory," he suggested.

GST has been in use for two decades and today is widely used in rewritable optical media, including CD-RW and DVD-RW discs.

IBM and others are already developing solid-state chip technology using phase-change memory, which IBM says can sustain up to 5 million write cycles. High-end NAND flash memory systems used today can sustain only about 100,000 write cycles.

watch this space....

Saturday, 9 June 2012

'Smoke alarm' bill scrapped

A bill which proposed forcing landlords to fit smoke alarms in their rental properties at the change of tenancy has been scrapped, it has been revealed.

Liberal Democrat Adrian Sanders, MP for Torbay, developed the Fire Safety (Protection of Tenants) Bill in an attempt to improve fire safety standards in rental properties.

At present, there are only guidelines for landlords relating to the installation of smoke alarms but it is not required by law.

However, the bill will not be brought into law after it failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session.

Smoke alarms are a vital part of fire safety measures, with figures from the UK Statistics Authority showing that a smoke alarm was not present in over a third (38 per cent) of domestic fires in 2008.

Furthermore, a smoke alarm was not present in 37 per cent of the 353 domestic fire fatalities in 2008, while an additional 28 per cent had a faulty smoke detector fitted.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Are Your Smoke Alarms In All The Right Places?

With statistics showing that the biggest reason why smoke alarms don't sound in a fire is because the smoke did not reach the alarm, D A Woolgar are encouraging people who have fitted their own alarms to think again about the number of alarms they have and where they are positioned.

Most homes own a smoke alarm, so it's clear that we all know that a working smoke alarm can provide those vital few seconds to enable you to escape a fire in the home. 

But still (in Great Britain) last year, more than 3,000 fires in the home didn't activate the smoke alarm because the fire was outside its range.

We are asking people to think about where their smoke alarm is placed and whether they need another in their home to ensure they have the time to get out, stay out and call 999

dont just think about your own home.. what about less able relatives to check that their homes have enough smoke alarms in the right places too.

simple top tips
  1. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  2. The ideal position is on the ceiling, in the middle of a room or on a hallway or landing.
  3. Consider fitting alarms in other rooms where there are electrical appliances.
  4. Don't put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident. - you can get a heat alarm for kitchens etc
  5. Replace your smoke alarms every ten years. - if they dont have a date on them they are probably already over 10 years old.
  6. Don't forget to test your smoke alarms regularly.
stay safe

Thursday, 7 June 2012

New stroke recovery technique by brain stimulation

New research about brain stimulation, the passing of electrical currents through the brain, was discussed at a major science conference in Chicago this week. The new therapy may lead to improved recoveries from stokes.

A conference held in April in Chicago of cognitive neuroscientists discussed a technique of brain stimulation, or , to give it the full scientific name - transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The research team behind a series of trials were based at University College London, UK.

tDCS is a form of neurostimulation which uses constant, low current delivered directly to the brain area of interest via small electrodes. The technique works by sending constant, low direct current through electrodes. When these electrodes are placed close to the region of the brain of concern, the current induces electrical flow. The flow can then either increase or decrease the the way that brain neurones react which leads to alteration of brain function.

What the research team behind some recent studies put forwards was the tDCS ) can have various positive effects on the brain lasting for up to 12 months, Science News reported. In particular, non-invasive brain stimulation had a positive effect in aiding recovery among stroke sufferers.

One aspect of the new research demonstrated that tDCS treatment can aid the recovery of language skills. The positive benefits highlighted by the UK team also related to a different set of experiments from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Sao Paolo, which showed brain stimulation can trigger better memory retention.

To add to this, further research from the University of Oxford showed that the technique can aid people with numeracy problems. In relation to this, Roi Cohen Kadosh, the lead researcher said in a press release "These experiments advance our understanding of how numerical abilities are subserved in the typical and atypical brain, and provide a possible means to improve numerical cognition, thus having important implications for education, intervention, and rehabilitation."

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

You enter the laboratory and see an experiment.

How will you know which class is it?
  1. If it's green and wiggles, it's biology.
  2. If it stinks, it's chemistry.
  3. If it doesn't work, it's physics.

Monday, 4 June 2012

LED challenges

One of the main challenges faced by LED lighting manufacturers is dealing with waste heat produced by the bulb.

Although a lot less energy is wasted through heat than in the case of a traditional light bulb, some heat loss still occurs.

So that the intense heat does not degrade the long life promised by the companies, the lamps need some kind of a cooling mechanism.

GE, for example, uses what is called an active "synthetic jet" technology that produces an air flow inside the lamp, pulling the hot air out and creating a cooling air current.

Another obstacle used to be omnidirectional light - making the bulb give off light in all directions.
That is why in the past, LEDs were mostly used for spotlights and flashlights.

But now that this problem has been solved, they have to compete with other products used for general lighting, such as omnidirectional compact fluorescent lights and halogens.

Compact fluorescent lights are almost as energy efficient as LEDs, but cost a lot less.
Production of 100-watt bulbs has stopped in the US and Europe, while production of 60-watt bulbs has been stopped in Europe and is being phased out in the US.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

What is LED lighting?

Light-emitting diodes have been around for years.

Traditionally, they have been used as indicators on electrical devices, such as standby lights on TVs.
White light (used for general lighting) using LEDs can be created via a number of techniques. One example is mixing red, green and blue LEDs.

It is suggested that LEDs can last for up to 100,000 hours, compared with the 1,000 hours of traditional incandescent light-bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps' (CFLs) 15,000 hours.

The technology is also much more energy efficient, using up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
The long lifespans and low energy use make LEDs economically attractive because even though the fittings cost more, the running and maintenance bills are lower.

you see... its simple

Saturday, 2 June 2012

HM Queen Elizabeth II - Diamond Jubilee

We love the Queen. Though we like Oliver Cromwell for bringing in the licencing of Taxi's, at heart D A Woolgar are royalists. On that note we would like to tribute to your 60 year reign.

you work tirelessly for little or no thanks, but we would wholeheartedly like to say thank you.

enjoy the coming days.

oh! and if you ever want any jobs doing in Buckingham palace or Windsor (the others are a bit far for us to travel to) drop us a line, or get one of your people to.

we do a nice line in LED lighting that does not emit any UV and limits temperature rise of display cabinets to less than 1 deg


Have a great day, we hope you win at the races (bet on the one with the pink shirt) and hope to be waving to you from the banks of the Thames on Sunday.

God Bless You.

Electrical Safety

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC), a UK charity committed to reducing fires, deaths and injuries from electrical accidents at home and at work, is encouraging more people in Wales to install devices that reduce the risk of electrical accidents.

Residual Current Devices or RCDs are designed to constantly monitor the electric current flowing along a circuit and switch off the circuit if it detects faults such as somebody touching a live part of a wire.

Government research shows faulty electrical products and wiring are the major cause of accidental fires in UK homes. Every year about 70 people are killed and 350,000 seriously injured in electrical accidents at home. Many of these accidents and deaths could be prevented by RCD protection, yet more than half of us don’t have it.

According to the charity’s research, RCDs could prevent up to 20% of accidental house fires that start due to electrical fault. The device is required in all new build homes but many existing houses do not have the device, the charity claims.

The charity is calling for
• Mandatory wiring inspections across the private and social rented sectors;
• Making the fitting of RCDs in rented properties mandatory; and
• Introducing a requirement for a wiring inspection prior to the sale of domestic property.

ESC research shows 20% of UK adults receiving an electric shock at home live in privately rented properties but only 13% of the UK adult population live in privately rented properties.

Poorly maintained electrical installations and a lack of knowledge among some landlords of their responsibility for electrical safety means tenants in private rented accommodation are more at risk than homeowners or those in social housing. This is especially concerning given the growing number of people renting

Friday, 1 June 2012

Britain's broadband is stuck in the slow lane

The internet is a bigger part of the British economy than education, healthcare or construction. Britons generate more money online than any other G20 nation. But when it comes to high-speed broadband, the country is falling behind.

The UK's average download speed is ranked 16th in Europe, according to IT company Akamai, and experts warn that the country is beginning to miss out as a result.

frozen out of the next industrial revolution - In terms of broadband, the UK is at the back of the pack. We're beaten by almost every other European country and Asia simply leaves us for dust

While other countries are racing to replace the old copper telephone networks with fibre optic cables running right to household doorsteps, and capable of almost unlimited speeds, the UK has settled for a compromise. DUH!!!

BT Group, with a network that reaches nearly every home in the country, is laying fibre to cabinets in the streets, and relying on copper to carry the broadband signal the last leg to the doorstep. Today, that means speeds limited to 80 megabits per second (Mbps), compared with 1,000Mbps or more available in all-fibre networks.

Even Russia already has 12m homes with fibre to the doorstep. France has 6m and says 70% of premises will be connected by 2020. The UK has just 400,000, and there are no targets to increase that number.
Ministers rank broadband as one of Britain's top four infrastructure priorities, alongside roads, rail and energy, and George Osborne has committed £200bn to these sectors over the next five years. But a fraction of that will go to broadband – just £1.3bn from local and central government has been earmarked.
If the UK had committed as much as the Chinese per head of population, some £7bn of taxpayer funds would be invested. Australia is pushing fibre to 93% of homes by 2018. In the UK, this would cost up to £29bn.

The government has made a rather vague promise that we will have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. And by 2017, 90% of homes will have access to superfast speeds, with the final 10%, the most remote dwellings, getting a basic 2Mbps service.

BT says it will pay for two-thirds of the work itself, but the government and local councils are finding most of the money needed to reach the final third of the population through a process being organised by the BDUK quango.

Superfast is defined by the government as 24Mbps and over. BT says two-thirds of homes will have access to its Infinity product of up to 80Mpbs if they want it by the end of 2014, with rival Virgin Media offering even higher speeds via its cable network to 12m of the UK's 26m homes.

No matter how quickly BT digs, though, fibre evangelists say that by 2017, the national targets will be out of date. We will have moved from needing superfast to wishing for ultrafast broadband. Television and Skype video calling will demand more than BT's hybrid network can cope with.

"These targets are fulfilling the demands of the past," says Boris Ivanovic, the entrepreneur whose Hyperoptic group is selling fibre connections to upmarket UK apartment blocks. "Fibre to the cabinet is a stop-gap solution, and will not put the UK in a leadership position."

He says the £17bn committed by the government to a high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham could cover most of the costs of a future-proof all-fibre network. "If we had those links we wouldn't need to travel as often to Birmingham and we wouldn't be polluting the environment as much."

With the number of screens per household increasing, watching television is becoming an increasingly solitary activity. Even with a 100Mbps connection, a Blu-ray quality film takes 13 minutes to download. BT's top-tier broadband services can cope with streaming several high-definition channels at once, but ultrahigh definition is on its way. The Japanese state broadcaster NHK will use it to record the London Olympics, with public screenings promised, and speeds of 100 to 200 Mbps are needed to transmit a single channel.